Sensible Drinking

Sensible Drinking

Regularly drinking above the recommended daily limits risks damaging your health.

The reality is, you don’t have to be an alcoholic to be at risk of damaging your health through drink. If you drink above the recommended levels on a regular basis you are at risk of developing liver problems, depression, forgetfulness as well as other long-term health problems, including cancers, strokes and heart attacks.

The UK has one of the highest drinking rates in Europe. The number of alcohol related deaths in England and Wales has more than doubled over the last 18 years. In England and Wales, every hour more than 100 people go into hospital with an alcohol-related condition; every day more than 40 people die as a result of alcohol and every week more than 100 children call ChildLine upset about their parents’ drinking – some as young as five years old.

In Wiltshire one in three people who drink alcohol are drinking more than the recommended weekly amount and one in five of those people engage in binge drinking. 127 deaths and nearly 8000 hospital admissions per year in Wiltshire are attributable to alcohol.

NHS recommendations for lower risk drinking:

* Men should not exceed 3-4 units a day on a regular basis
* Women should not exceed 2-3 units a day on a regular basis
* Everyone should aim to have at least 2 alcohol free days per week
* If you are pregnant, you should not drink any alcohol

These leaflets from contain further information about the health impacts of alcohol (please note that these are not NHS produced documents)

Alcohol and Liver Disease
Alcohol and Sensible Drinking
Pregnancy and Alcohol
Alcoholism and Problem Drinking

Units are a standard way to indicate the alcohol content of any given drink. To get an idea of how many units you drink, use the NHS Choices Unit calculator,

Here are a few examples:
* Pint of 4% lager: 2.3 units
* 175ml glass of 13% wine: 2.3 units
* 25ml glass of 40% single spirit and mixer: 1 unit

Alcohol and your weight

Did you know that:

  • A glass of wine contains the same calories as a slice of cake and a pint of lager contains the same calories as a burger
  • For the average adult who drinks, 10% of their total calorie intake is from alcohol
  • Alcohol stimulates the appetite, encouraging us to eat more than we need
  • Alcohol acts as a dis-inhibitor, making us more likely to break our resolve to eat less or eat more healthily
  • Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy

Importantly, calories from alcohol are ‘empty’ calories – they have no nutritional value and just pile on the pounds. It can be damaging to health to cut out other foods in order to ‘save’ calories for alcohol drinks. A diet like this will not contain the nutrients that are essential for health, and will also affect the appearance of skin and hair which may make a person look unhealthy.

To find out how many calories are in your usual alcoholic drink use the online tool at:

Alcohol and older people

Older people are particularly vulnerable to harm from alcohol consumption. Alcohol is broken down more slowly in older people and therefore has a greater effect on them that it would on a younger person. Alcohol use in older people is associated with depression, dementia and falls as well as physical illness. Alcohol may interact with other medications a patient is taking, with serious consequences and consumption may also lead to self-neglect including poor nutrition, poor hygiene and hypothermia.

Simple swaps to ensure you drink sensibly

You can still enjoy a drink but go for smaller sizes or choose a lower strength drink – you’ll find this information on the bottle as ABV in % – the lower the % the better. And if you’re thirsty make sure you choose a soft drink instead of alcohol. It’s also a good idea to have a couple of days every week when you don’t drink at all.

Know Your Limits – top ten tips to ‘rethink your drink’

    1. Decide on your ultimate goal. Do you want to cut down to a set daily amount? Maybe you want to avoid binge drinking? Or perhaps you would like to give up alcohol altogether?
    2. Pick a day of the next week to start cutting down. Go for a day when you are less likely to be under pressure, so it’s easier to avoid alcohol.
    3. Keep a drink diary. Writing this on a regular basis will help you to work out how much you’re drinking. You can also start a drinks diary online or via your smart phone at
    4. Work out how you can avoid situations that you know will encourage you to drink. For example, if you’re going out with friends suggest the cinema instead of the pub.
    5. Pace yourself. Try drinking each drink more slowly or alternating alcoholic drinks with soft or low alcohol ones.
    6. Find something else to do while you drink, like playing darts or pool, or dancing. This will take your mind off your drinks and help you to slow down.
    7. Get out of the habit of drinking because you are stressed or have nothing else to do. Look for other ways to relax: activities like swimming or going for a walk will make you feel better and don’t involve alcohol.
    8. Take stock of your progress and make sure you give yourself credit where it’s due for your achievements so far. This will help you keep going to achieve your targets.
    9. Try to have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Choose days when you’re less likely to be in situations where you would usually drink alcohol. Always give your body a 48 hour break from booze if you do drink too much in one session
    10. Don’t give up! Changing a habit like drinking takes time and hard work, and sometimes it’s difficult to drink less. Focus on what you’ve achieved so far and reward yourself when you have met your drinking targets. If you do relapse, don’t stop, just set a new date to start cutting down again.

Need help with drug and alcohol treatment services?

Help and support for Adults
Single point of entry for adults (18+) – 0845 6036993
Adults who are concerned about their drinking can contact a single point of entry telephone service on 0845 6036993. This service is run on behalf of Wiltshire partners by New Highway. It covers all of Wiltshire and is for adults (18+). Assessments will initially be carried out over the telephone, although appointments can be made at a satellite venue if preferred.

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment services, or if you are already involved with treatment services but need additional support to combat addiction, then contact Wiltshire Addiction Support Project (WASP). These services are open to anyone over 18.

Help and support for children and young people

MOTIV8 South Wilts – Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Treatment ServiceThe service provides a number of core treatment options, including:

  1. supporting young people aged 18 and under who feel they have a problem with drugs and/or alcohol
  2. advice& information
  3. services for pregnant young women who are using substance
  4. shared care, including prescribing
  5. healthy living and health promotion
  6. harm reduction advice
  7. an understanding of the risks of substance use and misuse
  8. advocacy – support young people and act on their behalf to help them achieve what they want
  9. individual one-to-one work
  10. access to family work
  11. helping young people to access other services that may be relevant.

Who can use the service?
Young people under the age of 18 who are resident within Wiltshire Council area.

Contact Details :
Address : We are based county-wide. We will meet you at a convenient meeting place of your choice.
Tel : 01249-709400 or 07785-715223

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8:45am – 5:20p.m, Friday 8:45am – 4:20pm
Out of hours, contact The Line on 0800-511111 or text 07786-511111 – 10am-10pm every day

Can you call in?
Motiv8 does not have drop-in facilities but please call to arrange an appointment

The Line

This is a free and confidential service for young people offering help and advice. We will ask you for information about yourself but this information will not be passed onto anybody else without your consent, other than if you or someone else is at risk of significant harm.

Further information and help is available at the following websites

NHS websites

NHS Choices – This website contains interactive tools as well as information on how to cut down your alcohol intake, how many calories are in alcohol, the risks of drinking too much, where to get support and personal stories from alcoholics and those caring for alcoholics.

Change 4 Life drinkswap – simple ideas for cutting down on alcohol and avoiding the calories in soft drinks, without having to say ‘no’ or to miss out on the fun of socializing.

How we’re tackling alcohol-related health issues in Wiltshire

To find out more about Wiltshire’s Alcohol Strategy, download our strategy document; Wiltshire Alcohol Strategy and Implementation Plan

Useful contacts

Wiltshire organisations

Alcoholics Anonymous Wiltshire
24 hour helpline 01380 729064
WASP (Wiltshire Addiction Support Project)
Support for those with alcohol and drug problems
12a Duke Street, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8EA
Tel: 01225 775558 or 07525 730586

Wiltshire Single Point of Entry
Referral route (including self referral) for alcohol specialist support and treatment
Tel: 0845 603 6993

National Organisations

Alcohol Concern
National charity on alcohol misuse
Drinkline: national drink helpline
24 hour helpline Tel: 0800 917 8282

– information and self-help materials
– Help to callers worried about their own drinking
– Support to the family and friends of people who are drinking
– Advice to callers on where to go for help

Parents and Families

For families and friends of alcohol and drug users

Action on addiction
Support for families and children
Tel: 0300 330 0659

Al-Anon family groups
Self-help groups offering support to families/friends of drinkers
Tel: 020 7403 0888

Counselling Directory – Alcoholism
Connecting you with professional support

Family Lives
Charity providing help and support in all aspects of family life.
Parentline: 0808 800 2222
Email/skype/online chat via website

Children and Young People

For 12 to 17 years olds affected by someone else’s drinking
Tel: 020 7407 0215

National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA)
Helpline for children of alcoholics and those concerned with their welfare
Mon and Friday 10am – 7pm
Tues/Weds/Thurs 10am – 9pm
Sat 10am – 3pm
Tel: 0800 358 3456 or 0117 924 3675

Children of Addicted Parents and People (COAP)
Online charity/community for young people affected by someone else’s addiction to drugs/alcohol

Alcoholics Anonymous
24 hour helpline 0845 769 7555

Down Your Drink
Online programme for people who are worried about their drinking

More Information on alcohol

NHS Choices – alcohol support
Information on alcoholism, bing drinking and caring for someone with an alcohol problem.

Online tools such as unit calculator, drinks tracker and alcohol self-assessment tool

Website providing alcohol information and advice

Change4Life drinkswap
Simple ideas for cutting down on alcohol and avoiding the calories in sof drinks, without having to say ‘no’ or to miss out on the fun of socializing